Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hard Habit to Break

Until I started this blog, I don't think I was aware of how much time I spend trying to map out the "best" plan. What's the best day to meet someone, when will the weather be best, how do I time my use of car or bus to minimize exposure to germs for myself or others. I'm doing it again about a series of stuff I've got going tomorrow.

The answer of course is that I should do what's most convenient. Or the one that provides me the most exposure. Instead I often choose least convenient and least exposure.

Monday, December 28, 2009


I met up with the online group. The meeting was actually really fun, and much less awkward than I'd imagined. But the rest of the evening (the event at which we met up) didn't turn out so well, so the whole thing left me feeling a little cranky. I had a lot of OCD fears about this evening; there was hugging! But it was okay. I'm hoping, and assuming, that as I socialize more, I'll get more comfortable, and you have to start somewhere.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Goals for the Week

Ultimately, I guess this will be a New Year's resolution, but for now, it's a big goal for the week. I'm trying to do one scary social thing each week that doesn't include family. For this week, it's a chance to meet some people in person that I've only known online. One has the potential to be a friend, I think, and the older I get, the harder new friends are to come by. So I'm partly really excited, and partly looking for any excuse not to go. We'll see how it turns out!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

OCD and Dating, Part 2

So, I tried the internet dating thing during the late summer and fall, and didn't find anyone promising. This was a setback, in part because I was hoping that wanting to keep from freaking out while dating would be a good motivation to push forward on exposures. But no such luck.

Recently, however, I've developed a workplace crush. That hasn't happened in at least 5 years, so it's kind of fun. I have no particular optimism that it will go anywhere, but I have been able to use it as an incentive to keep pushing.

That said, I've been thinking and thinking and thinking today about tomorrow's exposures: hanging out with my sister and her kids, and going to a movie with my aunt and mom (yes, I know I need to expand this social circle- working on that, too!) Anyway, lots of opportunities for things that seem scary to me, just before returning to work after my boss's latest chemo, and with a coworker about to go on vacation.

If I read about someone else truly worrying about this stuff, I'd probably just laugh, but when it's my brain, it all feel so REAL. At least the New Year's resolutions will be easy to come up with this year.

Hope everyone (who celebrates it) had a nice Christmas.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas, check

Well, there was much coughing, as expected, but overall, not so bad.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Deep Breaths

My dad still has his cold. I have never met someone who was so "disgusting" with a cold. Snorfly for twice as long as the average person, sneezes twice as loud as anyone I know, and he coughs and coughs and coughs and coughs and, well, you get the idea. Never covers his cough, and rarely even turns away from you while coughing. Made all the better by the fact that he gets about 8 colds a year. Bad immune system plus zero handwashing is not a good combination.

Even when I was not afraid of colds, I sometimes couldn't stand to be in the same room with him when he was sick. Years ago I decided I could never date a guy who was "yucky" when sick (and again, this was pre-OCD!) Anyway, I'm pretty sure tomorrow will be super fun.

Sorry for the whining, just needing to let it all out before a day full of family. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

OCD and Christmas

So, Christmas is almost here. Many exposure opportunities come along with Christmas.

My goal through this weekend is to work on that acceptance piece. I've already seen myself try to change my schedule to minimize time with people who might hug me or who I think have the highest chance of being sick (as if I would know).

Anyway, that doesn't sound a bit like "acceptance," does it? So, my goal is to let other people dictate the schedule. I've got complete flexibility between now and Sunday. We'll see how it goes.

If it weren't for my OCD, I would love Christmas. I'm not very religious, but there's cookies! and presents! What's not to love.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

OCD and Acceptance

Well, I thought I had an awesome post to write about acceptance, but I can't find the couple of articles/blog posts I found on the internet that really resonated, so oops.

The basic gist was the misuse of the concept of acceptance in people with OCD. As in, I can accept that I might get sick, but oh! please don't let me. Or, I can accept that I might be gay, but I'm pretty sure I'm not, so that's a relief.

The acceptance is only theoretical, and that doesn't get you very far. True acceptance takes some time, and possibly some mourning for what might have been (that came from Dr. Grayson's blog, I do remember that).

Maybe this will get thought out better in the future.

In the meantime, made it through another work day without a shower, and I finished up my Christmas shopping in some crowded stores. So, I'm still doing pretty well on the exposures, but the acceptance is coming a little more slowly.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

50-50 Kind of Day

Went off to make Christmas cookies with my mom today. Found out when I got there that my dad had a cold (his 2nd in December, what is up with his immune system??). Managed not to freak out.

I did, however, have some moments with my mother about her cooking style. The 5-second rule is alive and well at my folks' house. I try not to say anything, but I don't usually succeed. That can be my New Year's resolution.

Also finished my Christmas shopping afterward, so yay.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

It Works!

So after a few hours last night, I didn't even feel like I needed a shower. I did eventually change out of the work clothes, because they're not that comfortable, but I didn't do it because they were stressing me out.

So, ERP 1, OCD 0.

The hardest part for me can be moving forward and doing another exposure, instead of saying, "Yay I did it!" and then taking a week off.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sitting With Anxiety

Working on two really difficult things right now. One, I realized this week (or was reminded) that the closer I get to an event that scares me, the more I try to avoid exposures. Which seems to wipe out the previous exposure success. My boss's next chemo is next week, and I've already tried to schedule things in ways that make me feel less likely to get sick before then. So I'm trying to work on stopping that.

And, I've also realized that it's been a long time since I've made myself really sit with the feeling of anxiety, and not eventually give in and do a compulsion, lately, taking that nightly shower, or changing my clothes as soon as I get home from work.

SOO, today, here I am at my home computer still wearing my work clothes. And despite the guy next to me at work with a cold, and the other coworker who went home early after not feeling well, I have no plans to shower tonight. Neither of these feels great, which is mostly the point.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another Unplanned Exposure

Today at work I learned they will have to close the attached parking garage for as many as six months (!) while they fix it so random chunks of concrete won't fall on anyone's head (!!). Oh, small details.

Anyway, that parking garage has been my refuge at times, when I can't face the bus, or I can't face the thought of getting wet on my way to work. Not an option any longer. As usual, I guess it's a good thing. (Although as the budget analyst, I can say it's a terrible terrible thing for our bottom line. But that's another issue altogether)

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Outcome is None of My Business

This was the status report on a friend of a friend's facebook recently, and I love it. It's not true in every context, but for my OCD, it's a reality check that's working.

I have SUCH a tendency to try to micromanage what I worry about. Hmm, lunch on Saturday? Well, how about Sunday, the weather looks better (yeah, I don't know why the weather would affect lunch either). And if it's an event that can't be moved (especially if, God forbid, it's an outdoor event), I will watch the weather all week, as though watching the forecast actually has any effect on the weather.

When I think to myself, "the outcome is none of my business," it snaps me out of rumination and gets me back to the present, reminding me that I can't control everything and I shouldn't try. This is especially true when I'm trying to control the outcome of someone else's life, something that makes even less sense.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yes, This

The passage quoted below was recently posted on the yahoo groups OCD Support website, and I believe it was written by Dr. Jonathon Grayson. It espresses quite succinctly and well what I have been thinking about and rambling on about lately in the blog:

"When you face a difficult exposure, ask yourself: why would I take this risk?
And when you answer remember in detail: 1) how has OCD made my life miserable, what have I lost, how have I humiliated myself; 2) how have I hurt my loved ones with anger, by making them late, by putting my symptoms before them and finally 3) how do my rituals not really work -- because no matter how extensive your rituals are, I can find a way in which they aren't good enough--leaving you with the choice of becoming worse or accepting that the saddest thing of all is that for all of your ritualizing, you don't even get the prize you are seeking."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Random Thoughts for Today

OCD is funny. People with OCD are funny. On OCD forums recently, a few different people have written, "I'd do ANYTHING to get over my OCD." But they won't really. They're usually asking for a quick fix when they write this. I sometimes feel the same thing. I'd do ANYTHING not to have OCD rule my life. Except, touch that pole on the bus? Well, no, maybe not that. The public restroom? Well, no, maybe not that either.

Fact is, with contamination OCD, if you're willing to do the exposures, you're getting past the OCD. But it's really tough to do.

I'm doing it, though. Most of my underlying concern lately has been about losing my job. But then I asked myself if I'd rather keep my job and be miserable all the time, or lose my job and (ultimately) live a happy life. The job didn't seem as important then. And heck, if I'm willing to lose my job, what's the worry?

So, I'm pushing, pushing, pushing. I touched the door handle on the bus yesterday. I didn't take my shower at the end of the day. I'm heading out to an open house this afternoon, despite the fact that it's just started to rain. I think I'll try some Christmas shopping as well. I find if I take the time to say, "do you WANT to get better," I can often make the right choice.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Let's See

There's not really a lot going on right now.

I'm doubling down on my efforts to not wash my hands overly much, and it's working okay. Today I didn't wash my hands any extra times at work at all, and I touched doorknobs and doorways and faucet handles a lot more than I normally do. I went to the grocery store twice in the last two days without any Purell use. Also took the bus twice this week so far.

H1N1 vaccinations have recently been opened to the general population here, so I got vaccinated today. I guess that means I can touch things with even more reckless abandon. :)

So, not very exciting, but encouraging nonetheless.

Still stewing over the medication question, as I tend to do.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Considering Medication, Part 2

Despite my reasonable success in exposures, something doesn't feel right. I still carry around a sense of doom a lot of the time. And I have an underlying level of mild (moderate?) depression that I can't quite shake.

So I am once again considering medication, possibly at a dose that deals with the depression, if not fully the anxiety. I'm pretty sure a lot of my past reaction to medication (which I took twice for about 2 months each time) was placebo, as I react within days, at a very very low dose, but I guess that's cool, too.

For now, I'm hoping the "threat" of medication will motivate me to more full exposures, but if not, I might be ready to go there. More on this as it arises.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


My aunt hasn't been in my house since at least April, and I think it's been even longer. Well, make that "hadn't," as she came over today. Like many people with OCD, rather arbitrarily, I feel like she's contaminated, in a generic "she has cooties" sort of way.

It made for a really interesting time while she was treated for cancer this year. I was both trying to avoid getting her sick while also avoiding her cooties. Fun!

But she lives in a very small apartment, and she stores her seasonal things at my house. Now that chemo is done, she wanted to look through her Christmas boxes. I was fairly stressed, but I thought I did pretty okay. It helps that I've been keeping my house much cleaner, so it wasn't a huge chore to get it in shape for a visitor.

We went to lunch after, and she seemed to enjoy herself, so I felt good about that.

Now I'm off to the grocery store and the pet supply store.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What a Surprise

Well, twice in the last week, I was SURE I'd get sick and mess up someone's plans, and twice in the last week, it didn't happen. And somehow, I think it's finally starting to sink in that nothing I worry about ever happens. But also, that people get sick, and then they get better, and that's that. My therapist was totally sick over Thanksgiving, and it didn't really matter, and no one else got sick. My dad is sick now, and all that's happened is a lot of extra napping.

So, I think my brain is getting it, finally. But now I've gotten so used to being a social hermit, that it's a struggle for me to be sociable, even when I'm not actually scared. I need to spend this winter really pushing myself to get out there and socialize, even when it's scary and even when I'd rather be at home reading a book.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Couple of Good Exposures (If Under Bad Circumstances)

Yesterday at noon, my dad called to tell me he had a cold, and maybe he would stay home from the game we were planning to attend together. Ha! My family's had to accommodate me so long, now they do it voluntarily.

Anyway, that would be the worst thing to do, OCD-wise, so we went as scheduled. I was anxious, but still able to concentrate on the game, so that was good.

Today, it became clear that it was time to put my cat to sleep. So I went to the vet. I think the tech had a cold, and she kept touching my shoulder and arm to comfort me, and I wasn't brave enough to tell her hands off. So the kitty is gone, and I cried and cried, but at least I got an exposure out of a terrible situation. I guess that's good, too. :(